This new topography, which is strikingly different from the rest of the building, transports visitors to another world — a femme realm of reconciliation, creation and trust. This gesture fractures the museum's site as a former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple that was built by and for men.
Every Saturday, painted femme models inhabit Huanca's environment. Their movements through the space are self-determined, not bound to any direction from Huanca. She says, “These individuals are essential to the empowering process of reclaiming this space. My work has always been a poetic gesture commenting on societal imbalances and injustices. As I have had more opportunities to exhibit publicly, in different contexts globally, my work has evolved to directly confront patriarchal realities, power dynamics, and hierarchies of contemporary life. ”
Huanca's use of natural materials, such as raw pigments, oils, turmeric, sand, and clay, is essential to her developing an other-worldly environment. In her skin paintings —a term that refers to both the painted live models and the hanging canvases — she layers these materials with fragments of paint, latex, and other skin-like substances. This material link between the works, including the painted humans that navigate her sculptural landscapes, creates a tactile ecosystem.
In its willingness to engage femininity intuitively, the work stands as a challenge to the exhibitionism and objectification that pervade contemporary American life. OBSIDIAN LADDER invites us to connect to a powerful feminine essence that is inherent to nature and creation.